Upmarket women’s fiction, Why She Lied is a character-driven family saga that intimately explores abuse’s long-term psychological impact (91k words). Following childhoods where shaming and jealousy masqueraded as love, two sisters are forced to defend the very home in which their trauma occurred.
Mom and Dad stood on my doorstep, matching navy roller bags at their feet, paper airline tags curling in the August heat. Mom was clutching a bouquet of white lilies. Dad still had one hand at the doorbell, and in the other, held a mylar balloon on a purple ribbon with the words “Cheer Up!” stamped on it in rainbow colors.
“Surprise!” they yelled.
“What—” My brain raced ahead of my mouth, as my stomach lurched. “—are you doing here?”
“Well, darling, your father and I knew we’d find you home,” Mom stroked her chin, collecting her thoughts. The bright sun glinted off her Botoxed forehead. “Given your personal circumstances. You know. Your situation.” She dropped her hand, her smile showing her teeth.
My “personal circumstances.” “You know.” “My situation.”
I rubbed my left thumb against the stubborn indentation in my now-bare ring finger, then tilted my cheek toward my shoulder, attempting to surreptitiously swipe away stray tears. They’d taken my despair even more seriously than I did.
Before they arrived, I’d been trying to hang a large abstract painting, by myself. I lost my balance and slipped off my stepladder, hurting my pride more than my backside. But the crash was as good a catalyst as any for unleashing the tears I’d been holding back, as I lay on the floor wondering yet again how I had gotten to this point. My children, Sadie and Jordan, on vacation without me, per the request of their dad. The guy I married, twenty-two years ago. The guy with whom I ate late-night pesto, whose neck I rubbed when he fretted about finances, with whom I danced an improvised foxtrot at his great-uncle Danny’s third wedding. Whose body I knew, whose skin I could still taste. And, oh, yeah. The guy who didn’t want to grow old with me after all.
With no reason to temper myself, I let loose. I curled onto my side, sobbing, a full-body howl that had me breathing in gasps. My tears ran across my nose, into my hairline, and onto the hardwood beneath me.
I was still on the floor, cries abating to hiccups, when my doorbell rang. I’d ignored it, but someone leaned on it. Hard. I scrambled to my feet, used the bottom of my tank-top to wipe my face, and strode across the living room to find my parents on my doorstep.
Mom was still speaking. “Your father might talk with a lobbyist, anyway. Of course, we’re in favor of curbing climate change, but the proposed environmental regulations make it seem like whoever wrote them doesn’t know a thing about the dry cleaning business.”
What? They never came to DC to talk to lobbyists. A finger of anxiety ran down my spine. Despite the flowers and balloons, I smelled a deeper agenda.
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